Why are my succulents turning red? There always comes a time when succulent growers ask themselves this question.

Secret Behind Your Succulents Red Transformation

It can happen for several reasons, like bad soil health, too much light, improper watering, heat stress, and nutrient deficiencies.

Want to know more about these causes and how you can successfully deal with them? Then read to the end.

What Are Reasons for Succulents Turning Red?

The reasons for these plants turning a reddish color are the following: bad soil conditions, too much light, exposure to extreme heat, low temperatures, watering stress, adding too much water, not enough nutrients, being root bound and the pot size not being ideal.

– Bad Soil Conditions

One of the main reasons why your succulents are changing their color to red is the stress caused by poor soil. The major factor that makes soil “stressful” for plants is high salt levels, which can lead to many problems.

When succulent is exposed to excessive quantities of salt, they turn red without resisting much. Excessive salt prevents succulents from absorbing water, which causes water stress. Furthermore, the excessive salts themselves also soak up the water/moisture. As a result, dehydration occurs, which leads to succulents turning reddish brown.

This condition is referred to as physiological drought, and if not rectified, it can result in limited plant development and a color change. Remember to not use fertilizers high in salts in this condition as they can cause succulents to grow exceedingly thirsty.

– Too Much Light

All succulents require sunlight to develop properly and keep their color. Some like shady environments, while others thrive in direct sunlight. However, too much sun exposure might cause bad plant stress, eventually leading to succulent leaves turning red and falling off.

A little bit of extra light is good stress for succulents as it speeds up photosynthesis. But if the temperature rises above 95 degrees Fahrenheit and your plants are in the full afternoon sun, it is a source of concern.

– Exposure to Extreme Heat

First-time plant owners usually put their potted plants in direct sunlight, thinking that the more light they get, the better. This is only sometimes the case, particularly with succulents. Too much sunlight or high temperatures can cause heat stress (another undesirable condition).

During heat stress, Succulents close their leaves to prevent evaporation. If the temperature remains hot, succulents turn red and can even die. Generally, it is the 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above that impacts them harshly.

– Low Temperature

Most Succulents (like Jade plant, Air plant, etc.) prefer a moderate climate with temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Some species can withstand temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, succulents change their colors. It is because when the temperature is really low, succulents will spend almost all of their energy on surviving. So, after some time, they will give up and start to change color to red.

– Watering Stress

Another reason that makes succulents change colors is water stress. When there is water scarcity, plants lose their typical green color. The reason is that the lack of water affects energy production, leading to a succulent turning red and soft.

Furthermore, if there is no moisture in the soil, succulent roots will not be able to absorb the nutrients, which will cause plants to get weaker. As a result, you will eventually notice a succulent turning brown or red.

– Adding too Much Water

Although succulents don’t usually face an overwatering situation, still, it can happen when you apply lots of water regularly. In addition to careless watering, soil condition plays a part in soggy conditions. When the soil has poor drainage, the excess water won’t pass through, which will cause overwatering.

Reasons for Succulents Turning Red

Overwatering could be better because it directly impacts roots. In this condition, roots cannot absorb nutrients and oxygen. Therefore, succulents will start to feel stressed and have red spots.

If the condition persists, it is an open invitation for fungus to come and attack the succulents. So, the whole plant can get affected if you are not careful with how much water you apply.

To be on the safer side, always check the soil moisture before you apply water. This gives the idea of any water/moisture near the roots. Apply the water only when the meter shows dryness near the root region.

– Not Enough Nutrients

Just like any other plant, succulents need nutrients to survive and thrive. When their deficiencies occur, plants show strange color changes. It generally happens when you use a low-quality nitrogen mix fertilizer with different nutritional content. So, if you have also used it, get ready to see some red leaves. 

How can you know succulents are facing nutrient stress? Well, a nutrient-deficit plant can express itself in a variety of ways. The most significant one is a change in color and appearance. Furthermore, growth will also be hampered so you may notice weak branches or shoots.

Note that nutrient deficiency is not caused by skipping fertilization or using the bad ones. The nutrient lock phenomenon can happen if you add too many doses of high-quality fertilizers. The roots can’t absorb the nutrients no matter how many doses you apply. So, ensure you add fertilizers in the right quantities to avoid complications.

– Being Root Bound

A succulent can face a condition where its root does not have room to spread. When this happens, these roots will get dense and bunch together in search of more growing space.

This stresses plants, which can result in red tips at first. The discoloration will spread to other areas if you don’t do something. So, when you have changing colors and bound succulents in your garden, you should immediately start some fixes.

However, you must be careful when facing this problem, as roots can get permanently damaged too. But did you know that some growers purposefully let succulents become root-bound to achieve distinctive forms and hues?

Yes, it happens a lot because red succulents are aesthetically pleasing. However, keep in mind that not all succulents can thrive in this condition.

– Pot Size is Not Ideal

The last reason succulent leaves turn red is if the pot size could be better. This can be a nightmare for indoor growers. It is because indoor plants require more care. When a succulent turns red, photosynthesis and other internal processes are affected, stunting growth. That is why it is important to give adequate room for roots to grow and spread by not “under-potting” them.

At the same time, avoid “over-potting” your succulents too. The reason is that huge pots hold too much extra water, which encourages root rot. Furthermore, these pots are hard to lift and relocate, which can cause future troubles.

How to Fix Succulents That Have Turned Red?

To fix succulents that have turned red, you can use the following methods after you have diagnosed the problem: water properly, add fertilizer to the soil, provide shade, grow succulents late to deal with temperature issues, maintain the correct soil pH, change the soil, transplant succulents into bigger pots. 

– Water Properly

It is very important to water your succulents correctly if you want them to thrive and stay green. Succulents require moderate but irregular watering, so you should only water them if the soil becomes dry.

You should keep applying water until the entire root ball of the plant is well-soaked. To add water directly to the root zone, use a watering wand, drip irrigation, or soaker hoses. You can also slightly mist the leaves when it’s really hot.

– Add Fertilizers to the Soil

Your plants obtain all of the nutrients they require from the garden soil. Sometimes, the soil does not fulfill the nutritional requirements, so it is necessary to apply fertilizers to maintain the plant’s health and to avoid the green succulent stem turning red.

Before applying fertilizer, you must determine your garden’s current nutritional status. The simplest way is to test your soil to see what you are dealing with and what you need to add for healthy growth. Use the home kits for this.

After testing, go for a liquid or granular fertilizer that contains a balanced amount of the three major nutrients. On the label, look for the number 10-10-10 (indicating the nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium proportions in the fertilizer), which will suit most plants.

– Provide Shade When Sunlight is More

If you are concerned that your plant has been exposed to too much sunlight, relocate the pots and give succulents some time to cool off and recover from temperature extremes. If relocation is not possible, then cover the plants to provide shade and keep misting the cold water on them after regular intervals. However, don’t “mist” too much, or fungal diseases will attack.

– Grow Succulents Late to Deal With Low Temperature

Succulents prefer a moderate climate with temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Some species can withstand temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below this limit, then problems will occur.

Solution for Succulents Turning Red

When the temperatures go lower than this, the chances of frosting go way up. Frost occurs when temperatures fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Ice crystals will begin to develop on the plant’s stems, leaves, or other parts. Succulents that are not cold or frost-resistant can be injured or killed by frost.

The best way to protect your plant from low temperatures is to plant them in the late winter, summer, or spring season. This way, your plant will be safe from low temperatures and maintain its green color.

Bring the outdoor plants inside for warmth if you have already grown them early. If you can’t bring them inside, protect them from freezing conditions using frost cloths, blankets, or other protective coverings. 

– Maintain Soil PH

For most succulent plants, the ideal pH range is between 5.5 and 7.0. If the soil is too acidic, use lime, which raises the pH and makes the soil more alkaline. If the soil is overly alkaline, rinse it with one tablespoon of white vinegar to 5 liters of water to adjust the pH. You can also use sulfur to bring the pH back to optimal levels.

Remember that succulents are more likely to die in alkaline soil than in slightly acidic soil. So, always keep a pH meter in your toolbox and measure the acidity and alkalinity of soil once every two weeks.

You can also do a soil test before planting your succulents to know whether the soil pH level is right. A soil test is always recommended because it suggests pH and gives you an idea about the fertilizer you should use to maintain your plant’s color.

– Change The Soil

When there is an excess of salt, you can apply lots of water so that most of it washes away. However, it is only suitable for the soil where no plant is growing. If there are more salts around the succulents, the best thing to do is to change the soil and add a well-drained one.

There are also some extra benefits of soil changes. For example, changing the soil can also improve the nutrient availability of succulents. Furthermore, the chances of any disease or insect infestation go low when you replace soil.

It is because the spores or larvae are present in the old ones. So, when you remove it and add a healthy layer of soil, it is highly unlikely any disease or insect infestation will occur.

– Transplant Succulents Into Optimal Pots

Succulent plants will die if their roots are bound down. That is why it is very important to grow them in a somewhat bigger container or pot. More soil can be added to these things so that roots can stretch more. Also, there will be more nutrients available for plants. 

However, be careful in transferring succulents into a larger pot. If you don’t transport them correctly, they may enter a stress condition called transplant shock. This condition can also cause problems like discoloration and stunted growth.

Reasons for Your Succulents Color Change


So, now you get the answer to your question. Here are the important points of the whole guide which you should always keep in mind:

  • Always grow succulents in areas where they receive proper sunlight for six hours (no more, no less).
  • You should keep the soil fertilized to avoid succulents’ color from turning from green to red.
  • Test your soil after every two weeks or once a month at least to know the current pH, if there is any nutrient deficiency, and if there are higher concentrations of salts or not.
  • Choose a bigger pot to grow succulents to avoid complications.

Your query is now resolved, and you can better deal with succulents changing their colors to red.

5/5 - (5 votes)
Evergreen Seeds